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16 more people have died from coronavirus in Sonoma County. Public health officials report so far January may be the highest month for deaths in the county since the virus started to emerge last spring. The latest deaths reported this week from infections between Dec. 16th and Jan. 13th after holiday travel and gatherings. The county reported 22 deaths last week, the most so far. So 42 people have died the first two weeks of the new year, and 35 in all of December. There are about 100 people in the hospital too. The Press Democrat reports the surge in deaths and cases can be traced to elder care facilities. 143 residents of senior care sites have died since last year. The county’s public health officer called the latest deaths and infections the darkest period of the pandemic, and to see them as the vaccines are being distributed is especially heartbreaking.

A woman from Cloverdale has been arrested for bringing bear spray to the state Capitol for a demonstration. Police say 73 year old Margaret Shaw was arrested January 6th, the day of the US Capitol insurrection. She was one of 12 protesters arrested last Wednesday at the pro-Trump rally. She’s accused of breaking a law prohibiting owning and using a tear gas weapon with over 2.5 ounces of aerosol spray. The others were apparently arrested on similar charges. Demonstrations are expected to pick back up ahead of and on inauguration day too, so a fence has been erected at the state Capitol and 1,000 National Guard members activated.  Most of those in Sacramento protesting were not wearing masks. Shaw was charged with a misdemeanor and not jailed.

Just like what happened earlier this week in Ukiah, word of mouth dried up extra vaccines elsewhere in the state. Officials at Lompoc Valley Medical Center said they’d give out 100 doses to people over 75 Wednesday, and 350 people showed up, they all ended up getting their first shot though. More than 10 million are eligible to get the vaccine in the state right now, and 900,000 shots have been given. Reports that providers are not adhering the tier groups, like what happened after the freezer broke at Adventist Health and doses had to be distributed fast, or shots tossed in the trash. In Southern Calif. a hospital was vaccinating first responders because there were not enough health care workers who wanted available doses.

PG&E reports new technology helped them lessen the size of Public Safety Power Shutoffs in 2020. The utility reports putting in weather stations and cameras in the North Bay isolated the power grid into smaller segments and temporary generation and microgrids brought the power down events down about 55%. There were 1,000 weather stations and 340 cameras operating throughout Northern and Central California by the end of 2020. That helped them remove over 800,000 customers from last year’s intentional power downs in fire weather or red flag warnings.

A man missing in Mendocino County ignites several search and rescue teams. The Sheriff’s Office reports looking yesterday for 58-year-old Paul Duran in the Covelo area. They say he’s been missing for over a week and could be somewhere around Mina Road on a remote piece of property. The Sheriff’s office posted a picture of the man on their Facebook page. They say they’ve got nearly 5 dozen searchers trying to find him, not only from Mendocino County Search & Rescue, but also Lake County, Marin, Napa County Search & Rescue, from Contra County, Humboldt County and Sonoma County.

A head on crash on Highway 20 takes the life of a man from Williams. 61 year old David Surak was killed in the crash Wednesday afternoon on Highway 20 near mile post marker 21.10, east of Lucerne. The man reportedly crossed the double yellow lines and hit an SUV on the other side of the highway around a blind curve. The crash site then blocked both lanes and traffic backed up as firefighters made their way to the scene. Surak was taken to Adventist Health Clear Lake where he died. They say they’re insure at this point if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.

New board members have been sworn into the Middletown Area Town Hall. It’s the 14th year for the town hall and this year, they’re meeting virtually due to the pandemic. It was a lot of rule talking and approving bylaws and such. They also got an update from the South Lake County Fire Council. They meet next February 11th.

Another round of stimulus money is being made available from Woodland Community College. The next round of grants for students during the spring 2021 semester. This round from the Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 which will come to students as direct cash payments that can be used on various items including enrollment fees, food, housing, healthcare and childcare. Those who’ve enrolled in six or more units this spring are eligible for grants between $300 to $550 and come automatically in February. The spring semester starts in a week, Monday, Jan. 25. The college says they’ll also be expanding their emergency grant program for students with financial troubles related to education and housing.

Students should visit the college’s website at or call the financial aid office at 707-995-7923 for additional information.

During its board meeting this week the chief of the Little Lake Fire Protection District touted achievements made in 2020 amidst the pandemic. Chief Chris Wilkes also spoke about the new firehouse and says during the next month, weather permitting, a metal roof will be put in, insulation will be installed, interior walls will be framed, and aluminum windows also installed.  They’re also apparently getting a new engine, new wildland turnouts and a new automated external defibrillator. The Chief says they will also be able to get their share of the City’s Cannabis Excise Tax soon too, then will begin getting it twice a year.

A plan has been agreed to to bring kids back to Willits Charter School. The school has students from 6th-12th grade. They are looking at bringing students back for in person class starting in the middle of March. The Willits News reports the school’s Director Charlene Bredder says teachers are starting to get vaccinated too, 20 out of their 32 educators have signed up to get the vaccine today. But apparently they weren’t quite ready to get back to in person learning just yet. The Board of directors had their latest meeting Tuesday and approved a plan for 6th-graders to come back first and it’s also optional, they can continue virtual learning if they prefer. There are already 11 of 24 6th graders doing in person learning. They also have someone taking charge of COVID planning for their two schools.

Lakeport police are warning residents about COVID vaccine scams. Apparently there have been some social media posts with various messages, one that you have to pay for an appointment. Officials say that’s false. The County Health Department said earlier this week vaccination centers would start to be open 6 days a week in Lakeport and Clearlake and are provided in tiers. The schedule starts next Tuesday, but the clinics are open Monday – Saturdays. But this coming Monday is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Anyone in one of the tiers announced can get vaccinated, regardless of race or immigration status no matter what you read online. The health department says if someone’s trying to sell you a reservation for a shot, it’s a scam. The department says an 86 year old was scammed and someone got into their bank account and took $15,000.

Assemblyman Jim Wood has been helping to vaccinate residents in Ukiah. The North Coast lawmaker took part in a vaccination event at the conference center in Ukiah where his office is located. He says he heard they needed help so he volunteered. The group he helped inoculate were in the first tier, 1A, frontline health care workers, he helped give the shots though to teachers and says there were about 250 people there including teachers or support staff. Wood works in forensic dentistry at a morgue.

A woman from Redwood Valley has been killed in a solo car crash. The CHP says the 82 year old woman’s SUV rolled down an embankment along Main Ranch Road Wednesday. The patrol reports for some unknown reason, the woman went off the road and her SUV tumbled several times down an embankment and she did not have on a seat belt. She was ejected from the vehicle and died from her injuries at the scene of the crash.

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